A three-peat is not something that comes easily in the realm of sports. It requires many elements, perhaps none more important than a strong program, dedicated athletes and a knowledgeable coach.

Such is the case for the Camden Hills boys basketball team, which traveled to Cony High School in Augusta Saturday for its third meeting of the year with the Mount View Mustangs of Thorndike. The two teams split games during the regular season, with the rubber game coming with the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship on the line.

The Windjammers (17-2) outscored the Mustangs (15-4) mightily in both the second and fourth quarters and the defending conference champs pulled away late to earn their third straight league crown with a 76-52 victory.

Saturday, the ‘Jammers led 23-21 after the first quarter, jumped to a 40-28 lead at halftime and led 52-41 after three quarters.

Camden Hills then outscored the Mustangs 24-11 in the fourth quarter, the majority of which came in the late minutes when the Windjammers rattled off roughly 10 straight points to pull away.

Camden Hills defeated Rockland 61-35 in last year’s KVAC title game at the same site, and prevailed over Maranacook of Readfield 79-73 in overtime during the 2007-08 season in a league title game at the Waterville Area YMCA.

It is the 12th league championship won during Windjammer coach Jeff Hart’s 28-year tenure, which is quite an accomplishment given the fact the conference is heralded by many as one of the strongest in the state.

“I don’t have any doubt that this is the best conference [in the state] year in and year out,” Hart said. “That team right there [Mount View], they make you play hard and if you don’t play hard you’ll get embarrassed by them. They get after the boards, they get after loose balls and they compete for every single possession. So I was happy we got the win.”

Mount View coach Steve Caron, who was also honored prior to the game with the co-coach of the year honors in the KVAC (split with Oak Hill coach Jared Browne), said his team played the game more as an exhibition, digging deeper into his bench throughout the game.

“I told all my guys that everyone was going to play and we were going to have fun,” said Caron. “We lost, but we had fun. We’re hoping to see Camden [Hills] again [in the upcoming Eastern Class B tournament].”

That could well happen, as the No. 1 Windjammers and No. 3 Mustangs could meet for the fourth time in the regional final should both teams run through the rigorous playoffs.

Caron added that he was thrilled to be named co-coach of the year, especially given the talent of all the coaches in the conference.

“That was quite an honor,” said Caron. “My kids responded very well to me [this year] and I’ve had the same group of kids for two years in a row basically and I’ve got a really good group of kids. It was nice to have the other coaches in KVAC recognize what we’ve done. To go from 5-13 last year to 15-3 [this year], that’s quite a turnaround. I was pleased, and very humbled.”

Hart said that despite the fact that the ‘Jammers “missed a lot of easy shots” Saturday night, he was pleased with the effort he got from his squad. He added that after going undefeated last season and dropping a pair of games late this season to Mount View and Rockland may have helped his team refocus for the upcoming single-elimination regional tournament starting next weekend.

“I thought they did good,” said Hart. “We had so many games this year where early we blew teams out and I think we lost our edge a little bit and we needed to get the edge back. I think we started to get back into that mindset tonight. You’ve got to have it. Every game is a battle and I say it every year that you’re trying to end people’s seasons and they’re trying to end yours, so you’ve got to compete to the end.”

The reigning conference champs were led Saturday by Keegan Pieri with 18 points, while Tyler McFarland added 16 points and also pulled down 16 rebounds for Camden Hills.

Pieri and McFarland were both honored before the game, being named KVAC first-team all-conference. McFarland was also named conference player of the year for the Windjammers, with this being the second straight year a member of coach Hart’s club was bestowed with the honor.

Gordon Fischer, who was a starter on last year’s team and now plays for Colby College in Waterville, won the award last year for the Windjammers.

“It feels great,” said McFarland of earning the award. “I haven’t really thought about it that much, honestly. My number one priority this year is being the best I can for my team and helping us accomplish all of our team goals.”

Also scoring for Camden Hills Saturday night were Joel Gabriele with 11 points, Will Vlautin, eight; Jimmy Weferling, seven; Casey Scott, six; Casey Wilson, four; and Cam Gartley and Adam Carlsen, both three.

Jason Hughes led Mount View with 13 points, while Mike Cochrane added nine; Dylan Keller, eight; Zach Babin, six; Tim Alton, five; Zach Mehuren, three; and Alic Albright, Tyler Rednour, Erick Nealley and Mitch Ryan, all two.

The Mustangs were 17-of-49 (35 percent) from the field and 15-of-20 (75 percent) from the free-throw line, while Camden Hills shot 29-of-60 (48 percent) from the field and 14-of-21 (67 percent) from the charity stripe.

The Mustangs briefly took their only lead of the game to start the second quarter. After Keller was fouled after drilling a 3-pointer in front of the Camden Hills bench to end the first quarter, Babin connected on a trey to start the second stanza to put Mount View up 24-23.

However, Camden Hills quickly responded with back-to-back hoops from Scott and Weferling to give the Windjammers back the lead at 27-23. A Vlautin trey, a McFarland tip-in and Gabriele’s field goal quickly extended the ‘Jammer lead to 36-25 with 2:38 remaining.

Mount View stayed within striking distance until Keller fouled out with 6:40 remaining in the game. Camden Hills then went on a 22-9 run to end the contest.

The Eastern Class B playoffs are set to begin Friday, Feb. 12. The top-seeded Windjammers will face the prelim winner of No. 8 Caribou (12-6, 72.5309 points) and No. 9 Mount Desert Island (10-8, 69.2901 points) on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. in a quarterfinal playoff game at the Bangor Auditorium; while No. 3 Mount View will face No. 6 Old Town at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13 in a quarterfinal game at “The Mecca.”

Click for more photos from the league championship game between Camden Hills and Mount View.

Boys KVAC honors

Many student-athletes in the KVAC Class B division were recognized for their efforts on and off the court as the conference handed out their annual awards between the boys and girls title contests Saturday.

The following are honors for student-athletes from the five Midcoast schools in the conference:

Player of the Year — McFarland, Camden Hills.

First-team all-conference — McFarland and Pieri, Camden Hills; and Alex MacKenzie, Medomak Valley.

Second-team all-conferrence — Cochrane, Mount View.

Honorable mention — Chris Nolan and Dylan Meklin, Rockland; and Weferling, Camden Hills.

All-defensive team — McFarland and Weferling, Camden Hills; and MacKenzie, Medomak Valley.

All-rookie team — Isaac Greenrose, Medomak Valley; Aidan Hadley, Rockland; and Colby Blanchard, Mount View.

All-academic — Derrick Bernosky, Jack Davis and Matt Sanderson, Belfast; Carlos Baeza, Scott, Vlautin, Wilson and Nick White, Camden Hills; Alden Ahlholm, John Bartlett and MacKenzie; Medomak Valley; Albright, Babin and Cochrane, Mount View; and Meklin, Rockland.

Co-coach of the year — Caron, Mount View.

Girls KVAC honors

Second-team all-conference — Alanna Vose, Medomak Valley; and Maddy Smeaton, Camden Hills.

Honorable mention — Jordan Knowlton, Gab Duke and Taylor Porter, Camden Hills; Hayleigh Kein, Mount View; and Ericka Christensen and Lindsay Ranquist, Medomak Valley.

All-defensive team — Lacy Massengale, Medomak Valley; and Smeaton, Camden Hills.

All-rookie team — Knowlton, Camden Hills; and Lexi Nelligan, Belfast.

All-academic — Whitney Cross, Megan Curtis and Kelsey Woodbury, Belfast; Kylie Carlsen, Duke and Smeaton, Camden Hills; Morgan Baum, Danielle Dyer, Massengale, Nicole Peterson, Kelsi Severson and Kelly Wilcox, Medomak Valley; and Hayli Kinney, Rockland.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.